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Blockcerts could change the driver hiring equation

Open-source blockchain solution helps individuals control, employers verify employment records

What recruiter has not been duped by a truck driver who lies on his job application? Maybe he had a violation or violations he didn’t report? Maybe he’s had six jobs in seven months, but his resume indicates he’s been a valued and stable employee at a single company during that time? The fact is, job application fraud is a serious and significant problem in all industries. But without the time and financial resources to properly vet candidates, especially in an industry such as trucking with is facing a shortage of some 50,000 drivers, bad employees get through.

And that can cost a company through higher insurance premiums, hits to their reputations, and even costly legal settlements. But what if there was a way to properly vet employees quickly and easily, at little cost? There may be someday.

Natalie Smolenski, vice president of business development for Learning Machine, gave a presentation to members of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance last month in Atlanta on how blockchain technology can be used to identify people and their credentials.

“Blockchains are not only a technical infrastructure, they are a social infrastructure,” she told the gathered BiTA members. “Right now, we are in the early days of blockchain so there is a lot of experimentation going on.”

Learning Machine is working on building blockchain-enabled identify. It is contracting with governments, companies and school systems to develop secure blockchain credentialing systems. MIT just added diplomas on a blockchain built by Learning Machine. The digital diplomas allow students to access their records at anytime through the secure and unchangeable structure of a blockchain.

 To illustrate her point about the need for identity verification, Smolenski noted that there 200,000 fake degrees each year and 30% of people put misleading information on a job application leading to $744 million in fraud damages annually. She also said that there are currently 2.5 billion people in the world without proper documents to identify themselves, including many refugees who have skills that could be of benefit to nations but can’t prove it. An identity blockchain could solve that, allowing governments or employers to quickly look up someone’s credentials.

Smolenski told BiTA members “the blockchain can provide your drivers with identity documents” to assist them with passing through security checkpoints or in dealing with roadside enforcement. Shippers can also use the blockchain identities to ensure the proper driver and truck has arrived to pick up or deliver its shipment. The complete and unaltered driver’s records could be made available quickly. “And [it could include] a complete portfolio of their career [including awards and recognition].”

To dissuade companies from creating their own blockchain for drivers that is not accessible by others, including potential new employers, Learning Machine is building an open-source system called Blockcerts with the help of MIT.

Blockcerts is a mobile app that provides a key for the individual holding the blockcert to access. In the case of a truck driver, he can use the key to open up the blockcert to verify the information needed, including their identity, any awards, violations, employment history, etc. The blockcert also allows the driver to create a “public” key to be used for job applications or to send to anyone else needing access to information in the driver’s blockchain. The public key does not allow viewers to change any of the information, so all the data remains secure, Smolenski said.

“If you want to own your digital assets on the blockchain, you must own your own key,” she said. “What Learning Machine wanted to do at the beginning was help people own their own key.”

Blockcerts are not owned by anyone, Smolenski said, and available now to anyone who wished to download the app and get started. Blockcerts and a blockcert wallet can be downloaded from or through app stores.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected]